A lot of lawyers ganged up on the Gaming Commission yesterday — some of them representing Boston — arguing if a casino’s built on the Everett property, Boston should be considered a host community, which would mean a lot more casino money for the city. In Tuesday’s hearing, that host claim was challenged by Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders.
"I think the claim is this a matter of geography, and all I have to do is look at a map," said Boston's attorney, Thomas Frongillo. "I mean, you can argue about unfairness and corruption and everything else, but if it’s a matter of, 'If I find that the act specifically defines it to be a matter of geography,' at which point I should just be able to look at lines drawn on a map, then I’m not sure what we’re all here about."
The city of Boston and a number of other plaintiffs argued their case yesterday against a decision by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to award a license to Wynn Resorts to build a casino in Everett. The Superior Court judge heard a range of arguments challenging that decision, and she pushed back against some of them.
Frongillo, trying to get a word in, argued Boston is a host community because an access road to the casino site is on Boston property.
"You have to have a way in, and you have to have a way out, or you don’t have a gaming establishment," he said. "It’s like a house without a door. If you can’t get into it, it doesn’t function."
Sanders also heard from rival casino group Mohegan Sun, which lost out in its bid for a license to open a casino at Suffolk Downs.
"Here we suffered a substantial injustice as well by participating in a process that we allege was tainted, in which the statutory requirements were not followed," said Mohegan Sun's attorney Kenneth Leonetti.
Leonetti said the process was tainted by the fact that Wynn got the license despite evidence that a convicted felon and known Mafia associate was one of the partners in the Everett property.
A lawyer for the Gaming Commission responded that legally, applicants who get shot down for a license have no right to challenge that decision in court.
But attorney James Cipoletta said even if Mohegan can’t challenge the decision, the city of Revere can. Cipoletta represents Revere, where the Mohegan casino would have been built.
“The city of Revere had the right, it had the obligation on behalf of its citizens to protect the integrity of the process," he said. "And the city of Revere is disappointed that the process took place and rolled out the way it did. It was flawed. It was unlawful. And the city of Revere suffered an injustice."
An attorney for the Gaming Commission countered that since Mohegan Sun has no rights to challenge the decision, Revere shouldn’t be allowed to "carry the ball for them."
The last of the parade of lawyers challenging the Gaming Commission was James Sweeney, who represents the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He claimed the Gaming Commissioners’ calendars show they got together for lunches and other meetings outside of requirements of open meetings laws, and he said they probably talked about this casino license.
“Something was going on in those meetings rather than conversation about the Patriots and Red Sox," he said.
The Gaming Commission's attorney said the commissioners have a lot to talk about, and that assuming they discussed the Everett license is just speculation.
As she wrapped up the 2.5-hour hearing, the judge said she’d try to make a decision promptly, but that it’s going to take her some time to wade through all these arguments.